Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Lovely Tea with New Friends

Today I had the pleasure of meeting a Danish couple who are visiting friends here. I had heard on Monday that they were in our town for a short time and was so eager to meet them. It isn't often I have a chance to visit with Danes and speak Danish. So much vocabulary has gone by the wayside, but I can still hold my own in a conversation and understand almost everything. It is amazing what remains in the subconscious, lingering for so many years. Sometimes I even surprise myself when the right words comes out of my mouth.
It was so much like summer today that I was able to set our tea table on the deck (which got a good scrubbing yesterday in preparation.) As we chatted in Danish, drinking our tea and eating pastries from Trefzger's and strawberries, I could almost imagine being in Denmark again, remembering my student days there.
It is a shame that Flemming and Pia are leaving tomorrow, but I am so glad we had this lovely time together.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Little Present to Myself

Last week I treated myself to hand-dyed fingering weight wool from The Woolen Rabbit. I learned about this wool on Meghan's Stitch it Podcast. My goal is to own a skein of every color. Then I would roll in them. Naw. The two skeins of Oh, Ruby! are Kashmir, a blend of merino wool and cashmere. Pure decadence. The other two skeins are merino superwash. Scottish Heather is less purple than the top photo indicates (more like the second photo) and really does recall the beauty of the Scottish moors. How could I resist?The green skein is called "Ribbit". It has bits of brown and gold mixed in with the loveliest green. These are my Easter Eggs. Based on my purchase the photos on the shop website are very close to reality. The wool came wrapped in pretty paper too. I highly recommend a visit to The Woolen Rabbit's shop.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

St. Patrick's Day--A Day for Pipers

St. Patrick's Day is a busy day for Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums. We started the day by gathering at the parade site by 10:00 AM. The band leads the parade along with city officials and cheerleaders from the local parochial high school. These photos were taken as our Pipe Major, Kevin, tuned our pipes before the parade. The morning was chilly and foggy, but the sun came out and burned off the fog. By the afternoon we were quite comfortable in just our shirt sleeves.

As we were tuning I wore a blue lace shawl over my jacket. The Oak Leaf and Acorn shawl was knitted over 25 years ago from a pattern in Knitting World by Linda Carlson. It is still one of my favorite shawls and is the perfect blue for our Flower of Scotland tartan. Before we headed to the front of the parade I loaned it out to one of our band "support staff" as she was shivering in the cold. I'll try to get a photo of it when she brings it back to me.

After marching through Peoria's downtown we played at Sully's, a popular bar downtown. Then we hiked back to the beginning of the parade route and drove to the second bar of the day. In all we played about 10 places. By the end of the day (8 PM) my shoulder and arm were sore from putting pressure on the bag and my feet and legs were sore from wearing ghillies all day. Still, it was a fun day and we were able to add a sizeable sum to the band coffers.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Behold an Angel

Preemie Cardigan by Carol Barenys is a free pattern that came in very handy when my friend, Heather, was expecting her baby a few weeks early. I knit the 4-5 lb size and the baby was 5 lb 4 oz at birth. It is a perfect fit with just a bit of growing room. The wool is Lamb's Pride Superwash. The cotton bunny is from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding. The bag fabric is Moda's Hopscotch, a 1920's reproduction line. I used fusible web and plain white fabric to fix the bunny label on the bag. I used a fabric pen to write the the new baby's name.

I've been using embroidery floss (6 strands) to sew on buttons. I want to make sure these buttons don't become loose and become and endangerment to Baby. The blue toothpick is holding the button away from the knitting so there is space to wrap the floss around it to make a shank. I also use small buttons on the reverse side to keep the knitting from pulling.

Button bands are my nemesis. One feature of this sweater that I really like is the painless knit-as-you-go button band. The sweater construction is top down in one piece.

At first I used white button thread (top button) but thought of the idea of using floss to match the buttons a little better. I took the white thread buttons out.

Isn't this the picture of an angel? He is so beautiful!

Monday, March 15, 2010

They Call it Puppy Love

This little guy surely one of the cutest knitted toys I've ever made. You will find my Ravelry notes here. The pattern, Wrap-Me-Up Puppy by Susan B. Anderson is from her book Itty-Bitty Toys.

Although I recommended this book earlier in my blog I can heartily validate that recommendation now that I have knitted one of the toys. Susan is one of the best pattern writers around. The directions are clear and she confirms the number of stitches at the end of all rows where there are increases or decreases, and sometimes in-between. A novice knitter could probably knit this toy with just a little help. Usually when I finish knitting a toy I can think of several ways I could have changed the pattern to make it easier and sometimes I do that as I knit. With Puppy I made no modifications to the pattern. I have to say that is extremely unusual for me. The only result I was unsatisfied with was that despite my best attempts, the back legs extend at different angles, a trait you cannot see in my photos. I was so certain I was sewing them on in an identical fashion, but apparently not. On the positive side, a child will not care about that detail. I am planning on this toy to be my second drop for The Toy Society. I'll wait for him to tell me where he wants to go.

My first drop for The Toy Society is on their blog for March 14, 2010. #991.

In addition to the clarity of instruction what I love most about the patterns in the book is that each pattern has a creative twist to it. Most are interactive in a special way. I think any child would love wrapping this puppy up in his cozy blanket, don't you?

Friday, March 12, 2010

My First Drop for The Toy Society!

This morning I browsed around the children's department of our public library. Finally I left Kitty in a chair at the back of the room. There were quite a few people there but no one seemed to be paying any attention to me. It's really fun to think of places to leave toys and to imagine a child having a magical moment finding one.
Knitting IS magical! When you think that the materials (cotton string/yarn) for this toy cost less than two dollars, well, that is a lot of pleasure on both sides for a small amount of money. I forgot to write on the label that Kitty is machine washable cotton in case it is loved for a long time.

Weavers Wool Mini Shawl

Knitting this shawl was pure mindless pleasure. The pattern is a free one by Peggy Pignato. Knit Picks City Tweed is a very soft blend of merino and alpaca. I used the color Romance for the body of the sweater and edged it with Orca. (The 2nd and 3rd photos show the color most accurately. )I like the rustic, folksy aura of this shawl. It is very cozy and the shape keeps it on the shoulders.

I started the shawl in a different way than the pattern recommended. Basically I knit a long garter stitch strip and picked up stitches along the bottom edge and one side. Specific notes are on my Ravelry Projects page.

This weekend I'm going to try to finish the Fair Isle Vest!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Signs of Spring

Robins are back! Yea for Turdis migratorius! I also heard the call of the Redwing Blackbird this morning on my walk. These are sure signs that spring is not too far away, even in the unpredictable Midwestern plains.

See how Bob's Fair Isle Vest is coming along? I have one more OXO and two peeries at the top. One of those peeries is NOT done in the round. I'm a little nervous about that. I'll have to practice my knitting back backwards technique. It's only for 7 rows so I should be able to cope. Then I will cut the steeks and begin the borders for the armholes, v-neck, and the bottom ribbing. I cast on provisionally so I could tinker with the length as the last step of the project.

Yesterday I went to the library to select books and to make my first Toy Society drop. My plan was to leave the knitted cat on a shelf in the children's department. For some strange reason I got cold feet and left without The Drop. There were quite a few children in there plus two clerks shelving books. So I didn't think I would get away with placing the toy and photographing it without being noticed. I might try again today. Meanwhile, I'm about half-way through Wrap-me-up Puppy by Susan B Anderson.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


In an effort to consume more vegetables I suggested to Bob that we establish one night a week as a salad night. Since he is not a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, he readily agreed. We've both enjoyed our Salad Mondays for the past 3 weeks. Last night I augmented the salad with roasted vegetables, specifically sweet potatoes and yellow peppers. It was so tasty. We both felt satisfied afterwards and it just FEELS like a more healthful pathway.

In February a friend and I took a wool applique class at a local quilt shop. I chose to make the saltbox house pincushion. That evening I stitched the sheep although it hasn't been made into a pincushion yet. I added my own little touches to the pattern, which was fun. My sister gave me the beautiful wool. As a rug hooker she has a wool cloth stash that makes a wool lover swoon. Some of it, such as the green I used for the grass under the sheep, is hand-dyed.

During February the deer migrated through our woods at dusk, on their path to their night-time bedding place. Usually I practice my pipes about this time and though they could hear me and see me, were not frightened. Maybe they even like the pipes. I took this photo through the porch windows. The most deer I saw passing through was 11 with one of them being a buck. This past week there have been no deer but I saw a beautiful fox with his dinner hanging out of his mouth.

Last night I started knitting a puppy dog from Susan Anderson's book Itty-Bitty Toys. Like most toys, it not mindless knitting because there is quite a bit of shaping. I almost got the body done so that was a good start.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Blissful Knitting Weekend

I spent a good deal of my weekend sitting on the sunporch with my knitting while watching Ken Burns documentaries and keeping track of the wildlife in our woods. The film on Lewis and Clark was about 2 and a half hours long. I love Ken Burns' films and lucky for me, most of them are freebies on Netflix. All my other Saturdays in February have been busy so it was a special treat to have one with less busyness.

My current project is the only UFO in my possession: The Fair Isle Vest for Bob that I started last year. By spring 2009 it was getting to be a chore so I deliberately put it away, naively believing that I would remember what all my bits of yarn markers and safety pins meant. Once I got my bearings it started to move along nicely. It seems that my trusty subconscious has been working away on this for the past 9 months. I am less a slave to the pattern as it comes more intuitively now. Which is not to say I haven't had my share of frogging; but I quickly caught up each time and knew it was for the best.

Back in January I helped Sarah finish a UFO, the Jane Austen dress from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. Sarah finished knitting the top last year. Sewing the skirt had become a roadblock for her. Since my basement had turned into Sewing Central for my quilt projects, it was natural for me to finish it for her. I can't wait to see Lily wearing it! At the bottom of the skirt I made welts with the extra fabric, just in case Lily still likes the dress after a few growth spurts. Sarah can take out the welt stitching to lengthen the dress.
During my walks I've been catching up on podcast listening. Chrissy, host of The Manic Purl podcast, has her finger on the pulse of the knitting world. In a recent podcast she shared information about The Toy Society. This movement began as a street project experiment in Australia and is spreading across the world. Basically, the participants leave handmade toys (not necessarily knitted) in random places for children to find and keep. I love the idea! In fact, I already have a knitted toy just waiting to be dropped.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back into Blogland

It's been a while since I've updated as I've been busy with a few other activities. My illicit affair with quilting seems to be on the wane. Those quilts and seductive fabrics did eat into my knitting time. I would go downstairs to my sewing area and 3 hours would just fly by. Since January I've made 2.5 quilts. Each was a learning experience. I am not so eager to head down to my sewing machine these days. Hopefully I still have enough quilting mojo to finish the last quilt. We will soon be into the piping competition season and so more time will be spent with the band. Last Saturday we had an all day workshop preparing our competition tunes. So one fiber-related hobby is enough for me. Let's hope I can stick with that plan.

Today I finished my 2 year term as President of my P.E.O. Chapter. Whew! It was a great experience but at the same time, it is a good feeling to hand it over to the next person. Today we had a transition meeting. It felt strange to walk away with no bags or "stuff". A week ago I did a major cleaning in the area of the basement dubbed "P.E.O. Central", getting everything in order and packed up for the next president and tossing as much paperwork as possible. Today I went down there several times just to admire my handiwork. Who knows how long the tidiness will last.

Spring seems to be on its way. The photo was taken during our last big wet snow. We awoke to a beautiful scene in our woods. A tree on the lot next to us had fallen but no damage was done. All the snow is beginning to melt now and we should see some very warm temperatures at the end of the week. For some reason I am not fed up with winter yet. Don't get me wrong...I am greatly looking forward to spring. I can't wait to see the wildflowers coming up through the brown leaves in our woods. The birds are already singing there mating calls. Although I went out today just wearing a shawl because I am tired of winter coats, I don't have that cabin fever feeling yet. Another snow wouldn't bother me that much. That may change soon.

What I am longing for is a good rain, the kind you can smell. I love the smell of rain!

I have several finished projects but need to get photos of them. Among the projects are a Wool Weaver's Shawl, another Aestlight Shawl, and a baby sweater.

I made two trips down to my folks' in February for a special reason. Lewis and Clark Community College had an exhibit of my dad's work. The exhibit included watercolor paintings, jewelry, steam engines, photography, furniture, and wood art. Click here to see a quick video of the exhibit. Give it plenty of time to load. If you have trouble viewing it then check out the You Tube version which is linked on the same page.

Printer Friendly